Spain: Princess' court hearing suspended

2013-04-05 15:03
Spain's Princess Cristina, right, and her husband Inaki Urdangarin. (File, AP)

Spain's Princess Cristina, right, and her husband Inaki Urdangarin. (File, AP)

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Palma de Majorca - A judge who has named Spain's Princess Cristina a suspect in a corruption case on Friday suspended her court hearing, scheduled for 27 April.

Jose Castro suspended the hearing after investigating prosecutors appealed his decision to make the daughter of King Juan Carlos a suspect in an embezzlement case involving her husband.

The hearing was suspended until the appeal would be handled by a provincial court.

Cristina's husband, former Olympic handball player Inaki Urdangarin, and his former business partner Diego Torres are being investigated over allegations they embezzled more than €6m in public funds through a charitable institute.

Castro said that while the evidence did not point to Cristina actively participating in the daily running of Urdangarin's activities, it did give the impression that she lent him her image to help him obtain business contracts.

Pedro Horrach, a prosecutor participating in the investigation, rejected Castro's arguments. The alleged evidence against Cristina consisted of "innocuous circumstances" and "mere suspicions", Horrach argued in the appeal lodged on Friday.

Unique case

Barcelona lawyer Miquel Roca meanwhile said he had been tasked with the princess' defence. The 73-year-old lawyer is one of the authors of Spain's 1978 constitution. He is known as a friend of the king.

Cristina, aged 47, is the second of King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia's three children, and the seventh in line to the throne. She and her 45-year-old husband are the first members of the royal family to be made criminal suspects.

The case is unique among European monarchies, according to the daily El Pais.

Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo admitted on Thursday that the government is "enormously worried" about the damage that the court proceedings against the princess can do to the monarchy.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said the government "respected the judiciary and the presumption of innocence".

He rejected calls on the king to abdicate in favour of Crown Prince Felipe and on Cristina to renounce her succession rights. "Absolutely nothing" of the kind was being planned, he told journalists on Thursday.

Felipe commented indirectly on the affair. Judges "deserve the greatest trust", the prince said at a ceremony of inaugurating new judges' offices that he attended.

The prince was seen as trying to defuse criticism of the palace, which was accused of taking sides after it expressed "surprise" over judge Castro's ruling.

Read more on:    mariano rajoy
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